The Australian Tax Office issued a warning yesterday to be wary of scammers at this time of year.
The ATO says scammers ramp up their efforts to defraud the public of their personal information and money at tax time.
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Over the last year the ATO received in excess of 42,000 reports of email and phishing scams.
Dexter Eugenio, owner of MegaPC, told SmartCompany he was targeted by scammers impersonating the ATO who left a message on his answering machine.
SmartCompany reader Issy also warned of a scam where con artists impersonate the ATO.
“Beware of a scam going around where somebody is ringing up pretending to be from the ATO saying they are from the DPP and they are [surveying] you for fraudulent or non-lodgment of tax returns and to ring 02 61528615”.
John Becker, chief information security officer at the ATO, warned scammers can be very convincing and trick people into handing over money, their tax file number or personal information.
“Their tricks include impersonating ATO representatives on the phone or sending fraudulent emails,” Becker said in a statement.
Becker provided the following tips to protect your business:
1. Never share personal information, such as your TFN, myGov or bank account details on social media.
2. Change any passwords you may have shared with family or friends.
3. If you receive an email or phone call out of the blue from ‘the ATO’ claiming that you are entitled to a refund or asking you to confirm, update or disclose confidential details like your tax file number, press ‘delete’ or just hang up.
4. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links or reply to these emails. They may take you to a bogus website or contain a harmful virus.
5. If you’re not sure whether a call or email is a scam, verify who they are by using their official contact details to call them directly. Never use contact details provided by the caller – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
6. Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.
7. Never send money or give your financial details to someone you don’t trust – it’s rare to recover money from a scammer.
8. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
9. If you use a tax agent, make sure they are registered by checking online.
10. Never put your tax file number on your resume. Only give it to your employer after you have started your job.
11. If you receive a call from the ATO and are concerned about providing your personal information over the phone, ask for the caller’s name and phone them back through the ATO’s switchboard on 13 28 69.
12. You can also forward suspect scams to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au or call the ATO during business hours on 1800 060 062.